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Fish and Game Commission Approves Bear Hunt This Fall

TIMES STAFF WRITER

About 20 animal-rights activists were quick to respond Thursday when the California Fish and Game Commission, as expected, approved a bear hunt this fall.

The activists were successful in blocking last year’s hunt when a Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled that environmental studies by the state Department of Fish and Game were inadequate to justify a hunt.

The commission believes that a more comprehensive and current document will survive a court test, which seems sure to come.

“The court expects us back . . . We’ll be there,” Sacramento attorney James Moose, who represents the activists, told United Press International during demonstrations on the capitol steps.

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The commission, meeting at South Lake Tahoe, approved the issuance of 15,000 permits but instituted an in-season closure after 1,250 bears are taken. An archery-only season will run 23 days beginning Aug. 18, the general season will run 79 days from Oct. 13. Critics, including some hunters, protested to the commission at a hearing in Long Beach last April that a cutoff would only encourage hunters to take younger, smaller bears rather than trying to be selective at the risk of being shut out. A DFG wildlife biologist said that won’t be the case, since hunter success tends to be low, and regulations prohibit shooting bears weighing less than 50 pounds, as well as sows with cubs.

“Since 1957, the high (kill) was 1,448, and it’s averaged about 1,250 since then,” biologist Ken Mayer said. “That’s about 8% of the total population of 15,000 to 18,000.”

Mayer said that Reginald Barrett, a wildlife biologist at UC Berkeley, calculated that “you could take up to 20%" without causing an overall decline.


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